Tal Golesworthy, engineer turned medical pioneer, saved his own life
from Marfan Syndrome by creating a new way to treat the complications of
the disease. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder of the connective
tissue. The most serious complications are defects of the heart valves
and aorta. In Tal's case, his aortic root dilations read in at 4.4, with
a normal range being 3.2-3.6. His aorta kept dilating until his surgeon
told him he must go through the Bentall Graft surgery to save his life.
The prospect of having his chest cut open, having his body chilled to 18 c, his heart stopped, and his aorta cut out and replaced by an artificial graft, was unattractive. However, it was the idea of being on anticoagulatns for the rest of his life, with all the terrible complications and the diminished quality of life, that frightened Tal.
As an engineer, Tal decided he had the know-how to fix the problem by externally wrapping his aorta. Much like duct tape wound around a hose, he proposed that an external wrap of the aorta would restrict the aorta, preventing the dangerous dilation. This surgery would be far less complex, and best of all, he would not be on anticoagulants for the rest of his life. He could retain his independence and quality of life.
The process of securing funding was a laborious one, and Tal finally had to go into the private sector to secure funding. His team created a 3D themoplastic model of the aorta, which allowed them to create a textile bandage to fit around it. The end product is almost like a mesh sack and is custom-made for each patient's aorta. Tal served as the project manager for this project and was the first patient. There was no practice run involved. His surgeon performed the procedure for the first time on Tal himself.
Today, Tal skiis and enjoys all the normal ups and downs of life. He has had no complications from the process and best of all, does not have to take anticoagulants.
Since Tal's procedure in 2004, the procedure has been completed on 12 other patients with absolutely no complications. Tal's incredible achievement, especially from someone with no medical background, should serve as a lesson to us all that the sharing of ideas and knowledge can create miraculous outcomes. For more information on Tal's ExoVasc procedure, visit www.exstent.com or listen to him explain the process on www.ted.com